NEWS RELEASE: Sask Wheat urges Government of Canada to take trade action on durum

Saskatoon (September 9, 2019) – The Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission (Sask Wheat) is calling for the Government of Canada to undertake World Trade Organization (WTO) action to lift country-of-origin labelling (COOL) restrictions on durum in Italy.

“The recent action taken by the Government of Canada on behalf of Canadian canola farmers was a positive step,” says Sask Wheat Chair Laura Reiter, referring to the announcement of the WTO resolution case Canada has taken against China for restricting canola imports. “Similar action needs to be taken on durum as there has been a severe financial impact on Canadian farmers since Italy began their COOL requirements for durum two years ago.”

Italy was once the top importer of Canadian durum, importing over 1 million tonnes annually. That has dropped since the COOL requirements were adopted in 2017, to just over 328,000 tonnes in the 2017/2018 crop year. As Saskatchewan produces 80 to 85 percent of Canada’s durum crop annually (almost 4.6 million tonnes in 2018), this trade action has taken a significant toll on the industry and on durum farmers across the province.

“The prospects for durum farmers to find a market for their crop have gone down and we have seen this reflected in the seeded acres declining,” says Sask Wheat Vice Chair Scott Hepworth, who grows durum on his farm near Assiniboia. “We need the Government of Canada to settle this dispute, as Saskatchewan durum farmers are losing out on potential market opportunities.”

Sask Wheat will be corresponding with the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau, and the Minister of International Trade Diversification, the Hon. Jim Carr, on taking further steps to resolve this dispute. Sask Wheat will also be seeking meetings with each minister to discuss Italy’s COOL restrictions and other matters of importance to Saskatchewan wheat producers following the upcoming federal election.

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For more information, contact:

Dallas Carpenter

Communications Manager

Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission

Phone: 306-220-7003